Let’s take a look at the Valley of the Incas, a lovely and scenic place where a traveler can get acquainted with Indian communities, visit local markets, enjoy soft adventures from river rafting to horseback riding and take time out in a host of lovely lodgings with great views.
The Valley of the Incas includes everywhere between Ollantaytambo and Pisac, parallel to the Urubamba River cutting its way through fields and stony gorges below the high peaks of the Andean Cordillera.
As the valley is so narrow the Incas used a system of terracing on the mountain slopes so that they could utilize all the productive land and even today local farmers use these same terraces.
In the Valley of Incas you will also find several important Inca ruins, which makes day tripping in the valley an absolute must.
One of the most interesting places to visit is Pisac, the largest fortress city of the Incas. Pisac sits high above a valley floor and the stonework and the views at the Inca citadel are fabulous.
More ruins, mostly unexcavated, lie above the temple and even higher can be found more ancient burial sites.
Pisac village also hosts Peru’s most famous craft market. The market is open for business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday. But Sunday is the best day as the highland people come down to sell their produce and the mayors from all the surrounding villages gather to take part in a Quechua mass at 11 am sharp.
At the Western end of the Valley you will find an attractive town called Ollantaytambo. This town is the best surviving example of Inca town planning as it is built on top of the original foundations. Ollantaytambo is divided into canchas (blocks) and each cancha has only one entrance, which leads into a central courtyard.
When visiting Ollantaytambo it is a good idea to start at the Catcco Museum and then proceed up to the spectacular Inca ruins. These ruins once protected the strategic entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley.
Sitting at the top of the steep terracing is the temple area where some of the Inca’s best stonework can be seen. This also includes a sun temple, elegant trapezoidal doorways and a series of ceremonial baths.
Also not to be missed is a small Andean Indian Village known as Chinchero. Chinchero overlooks the Sacred Valley and has the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peaks of Salkantay dominating the western horizon.
Sundays are a good day to visit this town as every Sunday there is colorful and traditional market. But please note that villagers wear traditional dress every day and not just on Sundays.
For the sportier there are all types of activities, such as kayaking, horseback riding, rafting, which will give special perspectives of the valley.
A great place to stay in the valley is the Sol y Luna Lodge and Spa. This upscale lodging offers a great range of adventure programs and the accommodations are in circular cottages with rustic décor. At the moment the Sol y Luna Lodge and Spa can offer its guest 28 bungalows (23 doubles, 3 family and 2 suites) and rates start at $350 per room which includes breakfast.